Ballina shire council is being urged to reverse its decision to approve an NBN tower near the airport’s take off and landing zone.
Local pilots, business people and ratepayers have gathered more than 1000 signatures on a petition calling on the council to locate the tower elsewhere.
The petition was being handed to councillor Jeff Johnson this morning, who said he would present it at the next meeting of the council.
A majority of councillors voted to approve the tower despite council staff and the airport manager Neil Weatherson recommending that it be refused.
If it goes ahead, the 45-metre tower would be built at Dees Lane, Lynwood, and would provide wireless broadband to surrounding residents.
At the May meeting, councillors acknowleged that the tower would increase the risk of an accident and sort indemnities from NBN and it’s contractor Visionstream.
Keep Ballina Byron Airport Safe spokesperson Peter Carmont said ‘whichever way you look at it, and NBN’s own experts agree, the tower will breach the safety regulations’.
‘If safety is not an issue requiring significant consideration by Ballina Council why has the federal government just spent $ 13.5m building a fire station employing 17 officers at Ballina Airport?’ Mr Carmont said.
Cr Jeff Johnson, who voted against the approval, said he was happy to present the petition to the council.
‘Not only will the tower exceed the airports OLS (Obstacle Limitation Surfaces) but it will exceed it in the critical landing/take off zone, Cr Johnson said.
‘While it is conceded that it is unlikely that an aircraft would hit the tower, the OLS is there for a reason and council should be listening to the experts and maintaining the integrity of the airports landing zone.
‘If it is justified spending $13.5 million building a dedicated fire station at the airport then council should also be taking a precautionary approach to safety.’
‘There are other locations outside the airports OLS that need to be considered. I find it extraordinary that Council isn’t doing all it can to ensure that our airport meets CASA guidelines, said Mr. Johnson.
Numerous residents in the area surrounding the proposed tower had urged the council to approve it as it would improve internet access in the area.